Protecting Democracy From Unlimited Corporate Spending

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1 HART RESEARCH A S S O C I A T E S Protecting Democracy From Unlimited Corporate Spending Results from a National Survey among 1,000 Voters on the Citizens United Decision Conducted June 6 7, 2010 for

2 Overview Voters see the extent of corporate influence in government as a serious problem. It speaks to a deep dissatisfaction with the current political system. Support for a Constitutional amendment limiting the amount corporations can spend is broad and bipartisan. Indeed, Americans say they are more likely to cast their ballot for a candidate who supports an amendment. 2 Protecting Democracy from Unlimited Corporate Spending June 2010 Hart Research for

3 Americans are extremely unhappy with the current political system. Impressions of the Current Political System and How it Works 63% of Have voters not feel heard things anything in the country are heading off on the wrong track 63% 20% Very 4% Favorable 17% Neutral Very unfavorable 27% Unfavorable 3 Protecting Democracy from Unlimited Corporate Spending June 2010 Hart Research for

4 The belief that corporations already have too much influence while average citizens have too little is nearly universal. Influence of Corporations/Average Citizens over Political System 85% Corporations Too much influence Right amount of influence Too little influence Average Citizens 93% 11% 4% 2% 5% 4 Protecting Democracy from Unlimited Corporate Spending June 2010 Hart Research for

5 Voters feel strongly that the amount of influence corporations have over the political system today is a problem. The amount of influence that corporations have over the political system today is: Somewhat of a problem 36% Not that much of a problem 8% A serious problem 56% SERIOUS/SOMEWHAT PROBLEM = 92% Serious Problem Democrats Independents Republicans Liberal Moderate Conservative: Somewhat Very White swing voters Certain 2010 voters 65% 62% 43% 73% 58% 44% 49% 55% 57% 5 Protecting Democracy from Unlimited Corporate Spending June 2010 Hart Research for

6 Voters see Democrats and Republicans both as part of the problem. Democrats in Congress Republicans in Congress 34% 66% Includes 47% of liberals Look out for the needs and concerns of the average citizen Care more about what the large corporations want 76% Includes 53% of very conservatives 24% 6 Protecting Democracy from Unlimited Corporate Spending June 2010 Hart Research for

7 Americans feel that corporate political spending is about buying influence, not about free speech. Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Corporations spend money on politics to buy influence/ elect people favorable to their financial interests 5% 74% 95% Should be clear limits on how much corporations can spend to influence an election 7% 74% 93% When corporations spend unlimited amounts to influence elections, it infringes on rights of rest of us by drowning us out 7% 73% 93% 7 Protecting Democracy from Unlimited Corporate Spending June 2010 Hart Research for

8 Americans feel that corporate political spending is about buying influence, not about free speech. Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Worry gov t will go too far in restricting business free speech rights 16% 20% 45% 55% On Constitutional rights, should treat corporations same as citizens 22% 29% 43% 57% On Constitutional rights, should treat corporations like they are citizens 10% 33% 38% 62% Worry about Congress restricting corporations ability to influence elections Corporations should be able to spend as they want on elections: Constitution/ freedom of speech 10% 4% 37% 15% 30% 63% 70% 85% 8 Protecting Democracy from Unlimited Corporate Spending June 2010 Hart Research for

9 Just 27% of voters have heard of Citizens United decision, but those who have overwhelmingly disapprove. Awareness of Citizens United Supreme Court Decision 73% Support for Citizens United Supreme Court Decision Have not heard anything 61% 27% Have heard about Strongly disapprove 48% Disapprove 20% Strongly approve 9% Approve 9 Protecting Democracy from Unlimited Corporate Spending June 2010 Hart Research for

10 When given a description of Citizens United, more than three in four are unfavorable. Informed Reaction to Citizens United Supreme Court Decision 78% Very unfavorable 54% Unfavorable Neutral 11% 11% Favorable In the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court ruled in a five to four decision to overturn laws that Congress had passed limiting the amount that corporations could spend to influence the outcome of elections. The majority of justices said that corporations have the same rights as individuals under the Constitution, and that limiting the amount corporations could spend on elections would be a violation of their freedom of speech. As a result, corporations now are able to spend unlimited amounts to influence the outcome of elections. 10 Protecting Democracy from Unlimited Corporate Spending June 2010 Hart Research for

11 Unfavorable reaction to Citizens United cuts across partisan and ideological lines. Informed Reaction to Citizens United Supreme Court Decision All Voters 78% Unfavorable Favorable Total Very Democrats Independents Republicans 85% 78% 68% 62% 57% 43% 6% 13% 17% Very unfavorable 54% Unfavorable Neutral 11% 11% Favorable Liberal Moderate Conservative: Somewhat Very 92% 80% 67% 66% 72% 55% 41% 46% 11 Protecting Democracy from Unlimited Corporate Spending June 2010 Hart Research for 3% 7% 21% 23%

12 Americans have equally unfavorable reactions to specific aspects of the decision. Have very unfavorable reaction to this Equates unlimited corp spending on elections with free speech Based on principle that corporations are people under the Constitution Overturns state laws limiting corp spending on elections 48% 46% 46% Have somewhat unfavorable reaction 67% 64% 64% Overturns law passed by bipartisan Congress limiting corp spending on elections Experts say will increase corporate influence in political process Overturns precedent by reversing past SC decisions 42% 38% 46% 59% 56% 63% 12 Protecting Democracy from Unlimited Corporate Spending June 2010 Hart Research for

13 Most expect the decision will have a negative impact and worry it will give corporations too much influence at the expense of citizens. Expected Impact of Citizens United Decision on Political System Worry that Decision Gives Corporations Too Much Influence over Gov t 72% 76% Very unfavorable 54% 13% 15% Very negative 43% Worry a lot 44% 24% Not much 8% Positive impact No impact Negative impact Worry a lot/ somewhat Worry a little/ not much 13 Protecting Democracy from Unlimited Corporate Spending June 2010 Hart Research for

14 There is strong and broad support for legislation requiring greater disclosure by corporations. Congress is considering legislation that would require greater disclosure by corporations of their spending to influence elections, including requirements that ads say which corporations paid for them. All Voters 89% Favor Legislation Democrats Independents Republicans 91% 91% 87% Strongly favor 65% 11% Liberal Moderate Conservative: Somewhat Very 95% 89% 88% 87% Favor legislation Oppose legislation 14 Protecting Democracy from Unlimited Corporate Spending June 2010 Hart Research for

15 However, few voters feel disclosure is enough. What should Congress do about the Citizens United Decision? All Voters Democrats Independents Republicans Congress should not take any further action 8% 3% 6% 14% Congress should pass a law requiring full and immediate disclosure of corporate spending on elections 30% 29% 33% 31% Just requiring disclosure of corporate spending does not go far enough; Congress also should find a way to place limits on how much corporations can spend to influence the outcome of elections 62% 68% 61% 55% 15 Protecting Democracy from Unlimited Corporate Spending June 2010 Hart Research for

16 Voters are much more concerned about Congress not going far enough than about Congress going too far. Congress won t go far enough to keep corporations from having too much influence Which concerns you more? 82% Congress will go too far in restricting corporations legitimate free speech rights to participate in elections 18% Concerned Congress Won t Go Far Enough Democrats Independents Republicans 94% 82% 68% Liberal Moderate Somewhat conservative Very conservative 98% 87% 68% 67% 16 Protecting Democracy from Unlimited Corporate Spending June 2010 Hart Research for

17 More than three in four voters say Congress should support a Constitutional amendment if needed to limit the amount corporations can spend. Restoring the authority of Congress to limit the amount U.S. corporations can spend to influence elections might require a Constitutional amendment: Should Congress support such an amendment? 77% All Voters Democrats Independents Republicans Should Support Total Definitely 84% 49% 75% 48% 69% 36% Definitely support 44% Support 23% Don t Support Liberal Moderate Conservative: Somewhat Very 84% 82% 65% 69% 53% 46% 34% 41% 17 Protecting Democracy from Unlimited Corporate Spending June 2010 Hart Research for

18 More than three in four voters are more likely to vote for a candidate who signs a pledge to support a Constitutional amendment if needed. Suppose a candidate for Congress pledged to support a Constitutional amendment to limit corporate spending on elections: how would that affect your likelihood of voting for that candidate? 74% All Voters Democrats Independents Republicans More Likely to Vote For Total Much More 82% 43% 71% 42% 68% 31% Much more likely 38% More likely to vote for 19% Less likely to vote for 7% Wouldn t affect vote Liberal Moderate Conservative: Somewhat Very 83% 75% 69% 69% 50% 37% 32% 33% 18 Protecting Democracy from Unlimited Corporate Spending June 2010 Hart Research for

19 In a head-to-head vote, two-thirds of Americans would choose the candidate who supports an amendment. For which Congressional candidate would you be more likely to vote? Candidate who opposes a Constitutional amendment to limit corporate spending on elections 12% This issue wouldn t affect my vote 22% Candidate who pledges to support a Constitutional amendment if necessary to limit corporate spending on elections 66% 19 Protecting Democracy from Unlimited Corporate Spending June 2010 Hart Research for

20 Strong messages are available for supporters of an amendment. % who strongly agree (9-10 ratings on zero-to-ten scale) 55% 48% 44% 41% 41% 40% Letting big corporations spend unlimited amounts on elections is a threat to our democracy, because corporations will spend whatever it takes to get their way and elect people who will side with them. We are supposed to be a government of, by, and for the people, but under the Supreme Court s decision equating corporations with people we are becoming a government of, by, and for the corporations. Many of our problems in America are the result of big corporations and those with money having too much influence over the political system. It is time to change that, even if it takes a Constitutional amendment to limit the amount of money that is spent on elections. If someone has a consistent record of siding with corporations over consumers, workers, and the environment, they should not be put on the Supreme Court. The Founding Fathers included provisions for amending the Constitution so we could deal with flaws in the system and address threats to our democratic values, and this is a time when we should consider amending the Constitution to protect our democracy. The justices who took the corporations side in the Citizens United case left us no choice other than to consider a Constitutional amendment, because we cannot sit by and let big corporations hijack our elections and democracy. 20 Protecting Democracy from Unlimited Corporate Spending June 2010 Hart Research for

21 Reasons to oppose an amendment get much less traction with voters. % who strongly agree (9-10 ratings on zero-to-ten scale) 15% 12% 12% Under our system, the Supreme Court has the final say in interpreting and applying the Constitution, and we should not be passing Constitutional amendments just because we disagree with a decision. The only people who want to amend the Constitution to limit how much corporations can spend on elections are liberals and labor unions, and see this as an opportunity for them to gain an unfair advantage. Free speech is a fundamental right in America, and we should not let Congress restrict the free speech of corporations by limiting how much corporations can spend on elections. 21 Protecting Democracy from Unlimited Corporate Spending June 2010 Hart Research for

22 22 Protecting Democracy from Unlimited Corporate Spending June 2010 Hart Research for

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